Former Los Angeles Lakers great Kobe Bryant will be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame this weekend. The latest accolade adds another layer to Bryant‘s incredible legacy as one of the greatest to step foot on an NBA court. Years before receiving a Hall of Fame induction, Jerry West gave the former Lakers star the greatest compliment.
Kobe Bryant’s illustrious NBA career
Bryant spent his entire 20-year career with the Lakers.
His accomplishments cemented him as one of the greatest talents in league history. Bryant won numerous personal accolades, such as being an 18-time All-Star, a five-time NBA champion, a two-time NBA Finals MVP, an 11-time All-NBA First Team selection, nine-time All-Defensive First-Team member, and three-time All-Defensive Second Team selection.
Bryant also etched himself in the NBA record books, such as holding many Lakers’ all-time marks. He also finished fourth on the all-time regular-season scoring list and fourth on the all-time postseason scoring list. His sustained dominance earned him tremendous recognition among his peers, while he’s considered the closest thing talent-wise to Michael Jordan.
His remarkable career made it easy for another Hall of Famer to bestow a lofty compliment toward him.
Jerry West believes Kobe Bryant is the best move the Lakers ever made
Jerry West’s presence in the Lakers’ front office played a pivotal role in Bryant’s arrival.
The Hall of Famer served as the general manager for over two decades, where he helped orchestrate several franchise-changing moves. During an interview on The Dan Patrick Show in May 2015, West voiced that acquiring Bryant in the 1997 NBA draft was the best move the Lakers ever made.
“That to me was the best deal we ever made,” West recounted. “I’ve always looked at deals sometimes when you’re always pushing a deal. Sometimes the best you make are the ones you do you not make.”
West didn’t hesitate to trade star center Vlade Divac to acquire Bryant from the then-Charlotte Hornets. The move also opened the door for the Lakers to unload a hefty seven-year, $120 million offer to sign Shaquille O’Neal.
Bryant took a couple of years to develop, but he quickly became one of the NBA’s best players. His pairing alongside O’Neal elevated Los Angeles to three NBA titles in four Finals appearances.
After O’Neal’s departure, Bryant guided the Lakers to two more NBA titles in three Finals appearances. It’s hard to argue against West’s stance as the move changed the fate of the franchise.
Legacy forever etched in stone
The 2021 Hall of Fame induction brings another reason for remembrance of Bryant’s legacy.
The five-time NBA champion was more than a game-changing talent and all-time great. He influenced many of his peers and the generations of players after him.
His strong reputation, along with his Mamba mentality, impacted many well beyond the realm of sports. His dedication and passion for his craft pushed others to find success in their lives.
Saturday’s Hall of Fame induction will shine a brighter light on his life on and off the court. The word’s spoken from Jordan will further underline what’s he meant to game of basketball and much more.
Although it’s been more than a year since his tragic passing, Bryant has left a more substantial mark on the NBA and those that admired him.